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REVIEW: Cattle Valley: Fool’s Gold by Jenna Byrnes

fool's gold by Jenna Byrnes Cattle Valley seems like a nice little town where everyone is living a Gay HEA.   I thought the author did a good job of showing a strong community where people support and accept one another.   In Fool's Gold, we meet a lot of characters from the other books in this series, and they don't add much to the story.   But I enjoyed the small town flavor, and I liked both heroines.   Addie's main flaw is that she doesn't make responsible financial decisions.   She takes her car to a mechanic but can't pay the charges, she buys a hotel sight unseen, and she isn’t sure if she has insurance.   Even for an 18 year old, I wouldn’t find this behavior sympathetic.   Addie is a grown woman, hard to respect for these choices.

But never mind that.   Where the story really fell short for me was in the romance and the sex scenes.   It’s hard to DNF a novella of 100 pages, but I almost gave up several times.

Fool's Gold opens with Addie and her girlfriend, Chloe, on a road trip to Cattle Valley, aka Gay Utopia.   They wake up at a truck stop, shower together, and pull over to the side of the road for a steamy quickie.   This is my first f/f romance (without an "m" in the mix) so I wasn't sure what to expect.   If I had to judge lesbian sexuality by this story, I might reach the following conclusions:

  1. Lesbians are Hot and Horny.
  2. They do it wherever, whenever.
  3. Foreplay is not important.

I can go along with those first two.   This is erotic romance-’I'm looking for explicit sex.   But I can't get on board with #3.   To be honest, I thought this read like m/m.   While men might enjoy having a hand shoved down their pants very suddenly, I assume that most ladies are turned off by such preemptory maneuvers.   Addie gets ambushed by Chloe more than once in this manner.   I cringed at the thought of being touched like that without a warm-up.   Not sexy!

Chloe is a bitchy little brat who thinks Cattle Valley is "boring."   She leaves town in a huff.   Mel, a sweet book clerk who has had two or three conversations with Addie, replaces Chloe less than 12 hours later.   Again, the sex is rushed-’and the romance suffers.   I don't care if Chloe and Addie have fast, unappealing encounters, but I want more tenderness from the main couple.   These two fall into bed together with the same dearth of emotion and lackluster foreplay as the previous pair.   Some of the language and dialogue reminded me of m/m.   Here's a sample:

"Your turn. I'm going to make you come like you never have before."

"I want that more than anything." Addie replied, squashing their mouths together for one last, soul-wrenching kiss.

"On your back, my beauty." Mel pressed Addie onto the bed. She positioned herself in front of the lovely round breasts that had been tempting her. "Mmm, I've wanted to taste these forever." She drew one nipple into her mouth.

"Yeah, oh yeah!" Addie caught the back of Mel's head in her hand and urged her on.

Maybe it's just me, but "squashing their mouths together," and "yeah, oh yeah!" don't sound very feminine.   Perhaps I'm being picky here.   I was looking for more sexual tension and a deeper connection.   I found flaws instead.

Addie and Mel declare their love in short order and continue fixing up the hotel together.   Chloe comes back to cause trouble, and some family issues are resolved, but the ending seems like an anticlimactic add-on.   I can't recommend Fool's Gold for its romance, although the writing is decent, the setting is interesting, and the characters are likeable.   D.

~Jill S

Book Link | Total eBound

*****
Jane’s Note: Jill contacted me and asked if we would be interested in lesbian romance reviews and I immediately said yes. I know this is something the community has asked about for some time. Special thanks to Jill for bringing this forward. We will have one review a month or so. All review requests can be sent to me: jane at dearauthor.com with “lesbian romance fiction” in the subject line.

Guest Reviewer

45 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention New post: REVIEW: Cattle Valley: Fool's Gold by Jenna Byrnes -- Topsy.com
    May 08, 2010 @ 11:23:08

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  2. Maili
    May 08, 2010 @ 13:36:19

    Am I right in understanding that Addie has sexual relationships with two women? Isn’t this unusual, particularly for an erotic romance AND a novella? I mean, putting menages aside, most romances usually restrict a hero/ine’s sexual relationship to just one person, don’t they?

    Either way, it’s a shame that it’s a DNF. But I look forward to more reviews from you. :) Many thanks.

    (To be honest, when I saw that cover a while back, I assumed it was a f/m/f because of the cowboy at top of the cover. I didn’t realise it was part of a series.)

  3. katiebabs
    May 08, 2010 @ 13:46:27

    Foreplay is very important for me as a reader regardless is it is straight or gay romance.

    Nice review Jill.

  4. LVLM
    May 08, 2010 @ 13:53:46

    Jill, that’s a good review of this book.

    I think I enjoyed it much more than you or experienced it differently, but that’s how it is.

    I thought the relationship between Addie and Mel was rather sweet. But why Chloe was part of the mix, I didn’t get too much.

    And the sex, well, again, I think that’s a matter of personal taste. I loved it. snort. I rather like it when both women aren’t too soft but one is a bit more aggressive. Otherwise it’s a bit boring to me. I guess it’s wanting that m/f sexual dynamic in a f/f story.

    But you will see that if you read lesbian stories, written by lesbians, women are just as rough and aggressive as men. I’ve read a few straight up lesbian erotic romances in which the sex has been pretty coarse and rough, sans any foreplay. Especially if the butch/femme dynamic is more prominent.

    What bugged me in this whole story is the whole Cattle Valley thing. I know it’s a popular m/m series, but I think the setting is dumb and unrealistic. But this author didn’t create the Cattle Valley thing, she just set her characters in it.

    Maili- it’s not a menage. Addie comes to town with bad girl Chloe in tow, but she’s not too happy with Chloe. She meets Mel, who is a ‘good’ girl and way more mature and things develop. But for a bit Addie has trouble getting rid of Chloe or letting that go, while she’s opening up to Mel.

    That also didn’t make sense to me. Chloe took off, leaving in a huff, and Addie gets with Mel, but then Chloe comes back and manages to manipulate Addie again into being with her. I didn’t like that and this did lessen Addie in my eyes. So it does seem like a menage, but not really.

    And Jane, that’s great that you will have a f/f or lesbian romance review once in a while.

  5. Jane
    May 08, 2010 @ 16:06:55

    @LVLM: I thought the cover was nice. I appreciate Jill offering the reviews. It’s definitely something we have been lacking.

    I think that there is more affordable lesbian romances right now. I know that Jayne and I looked into a few of the publishers you recommended a while back but the books were really expensive (or seemed so to us).

  6. LVLM
    May 08, 2010 @ 17:07:38

    Jane- Yes, most traditional lesbian romances are put out by Bold Strokes books, Cleis Press and so on. Because they are so niche, yes, they are expensive. I guess you could ask for a review copy of some of their books.

    ARe sells Bold Strokes books. Of course DRM’d. But I buy them when ARe has sales since Bold Strokes sells their ebooks the same price as their trades. I’ve gotten a few for 1/2 price.

    There are more and more f/f or lesbian romance/erotic romance coming out from epubs that are fairly decent, but still it’s not too easy to find well written ones.

    This kind of content is still not that popular, so it’s harder to find.

    For the few of us who do like reading it though, it’s nice that DA does some reviews once and a while.

  7. Jill Sorenson
    May 08, 2010 @ 17:28:54

    Maili,

    Yes, the heroine has sex with both women, but not at the same time. I guess I would call it a love triangle, although it’s clear that Chloe is a poor choice. You’re right, this is an unusual situation for a novella. I don’t think the author had room to make it work.

    LVLM,

    That is so interesting, the lack of foreplay or roughness you mention. Of course I’m familiar with this in m/f and not sure why I found it more jarring here. Hmmm.

    Thanks Jane! I’m happy to step up. :)

  8. John
    May 08, 2010 @ 17:45:30

    From one newbie to another, welcome Jill. ^^

    Anyway, I kind of agree about the lack of foreplay being surprising. It’s probably just the general lack of lesbians in media. Gay men aren’t much better off, but by romance market standards they have a lot more being done with them. It’s good to see some of these romances being reviewed on here, though. :) Hopefully there are much better ones out there!

  9. Edie
    May 08, 2010 @ 17:50:29

    Bold Strokes prices make me cry. *wails*

  10. katiebabs
    May 08, 2010 @ 17:53:31

    Bold Strokes published ebooks, so why would they be higher than most ebooks? Just because they sell a specific genre? That doesn’t seem right to me. And also with other epubs wanting more Lesbian Fiction, they may have some fierce competition.

  11. LVLM
    May 08, 2010 @ 18:11:15

    Jill– your thing about the foreplay has me thinking now, because it’s actually never come up for me with f/f.

    F/f or lesbian sex IS pretty much what men do as foreplay for women in m/f. So two women having sex is kind of the same as m/f foreplay. Ergo, for me foreplay between women doesn’t usually stand out as an issue in erotic romance.

    Maybe what you are talking about is more to do with cuddling or kissing and having some more emotional connection before sex. I agree then on this point that two women just getting it on without preamble and it being less than soft, could be jarring and a turn off. Still, no matter what type of sex people are having, I think most women want to feel or see that emotional thing going on. And for f/f that might be more about cuddling and kissing or hugging and such before sex.

    I’ll have to pay attention to that because you bring up an interesting point in f/f.

    Katie- yes, this has pissed me off to no end that a lot of these independent small niche publishers sell their ebooks for the same price as their trades.

    Especially Bold Strokes books pisses me off because not only do they charge the same price for their ebooks, they slap their books with serious DRM. I can’t read their DRM pdf on my eBookwise and have to download in mobi and read on the DH’s PDA, which I hate.

  12. kirsten saell
    May 09, 2010 @ 02:08:05

    @LVLM: @Jill Sorenson:

    I can see how it would seem…strange for a straight woman to read f/f sex that’s lacking in foreplay, but I agree with Leah (LVLM) that it isn’t unheard of in lesbian romance to have that. And as you said, it may have been the lack of sexual tension and emotional connection that was the deeper issue. Because especially when there’s no man in the mix, there needs to be not only sexual tension, but a strong emotional connection, for an f/f story to work for me. And I think in f/f, there’s room for hot, fast, quick sex as well as the more tender, sweet, prolonged kind. In fact, I get bored fairly quickly if it’s just one or the other. But what I’m reading it for is mainly the kind of longing and the satisfaction of longing that seems to maybe be missing in this story?

    I do feel, myself, that I have a hard time buying a woman behaving and feeling completely like a man in the context of f/f. That is, horndogging around and jumping into bed (and a relationship) with someone on short acquaintance–even though I tend to be that way myself, I’m never that way with women. That’s what men are for, lol. But if lesbians didn’t engage in such hijinks, we wouldn’t have terms like “U-hauling” in modern parlance, would we?

    It’s really hard sometimes to put your finger on what’s wonky with a story, and I think because the characters in f/f are women and the readers of romance are mainly women, it’s hard to reconcile when those characters don’t behave remotely the way we do or would.

    Still, I’m rather like Leah (LVLM), in that I’ve found the Cattle Valley setting kind of trite and annoying. But I haven’t read this particular book, and may give it a try, because sometimes the hand shoved down the pants with little build-up, well, I find that hot. Hard to say, though, what will work for one woman and what will for another, and I think again, because the main readers and the main characters are women, it’s just more of an issue in f/f.

  13. Jayne
    May 09, 2010 @ 04:47:46

    @Edie: @katiebabs: I totally agree with you re: prices for f/f books. After I reviewed the few f/f books I have, I checked into some of the publishers that posters mentioned and was gobsmacked at the prices. Perhaps readers more familiar with the authors would know which books might be worth it for them but for a newbie the cost of buying one book which might or might not work for you is prohibitive in today’s economy. I just don’t have the money needed to blindly pick a book.

  14. Toni
    May 09, 2010 @ 07:23:26

    @LVLM:

    As the person who creates and uploads the BSB eBooks to ARe I have to dispute two comments made about BSB eBooks.

    First, BSB eBooks are not priced the same as the print books. The eBooks are priced 25% cheaper. The majority of the print books are $16.95 and the eBooks are $12.95. You can view the pricing of the print and eBooks at the BSB webstore at http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/.

    Second, BSB eBooks are not DRM protected. All eBooks can be read on multiple devices which would not be the case if they were DRM protected. The PDF files are password protected to prevent printing which is different from DRM protection. I don’t know what in particular is preventing the books from loading on your eBookwise but it isn’t DRM protection. I would be happy to help troubleshoot any issues you may have if you would like to contact me.

    Feel free to check out the BSB FAQ at http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/ebook-faqs/bsb_faq.htm if you have any further question about their eBooks.

  15. LVLM
    May 09, 2010 @ 08:12:00

    Toni- that was nice of you to come here and explain about Bold Strokes Books. I did just assume BSB ebook prices were the same as their trade since they’re still very expensive and cost what normal trades cost.

    Are you from ARe or BSB?

    Whether BSB ebooks are the same exact price as their trades or 25% less, $12.95 is still a ridiculously high price for me for an ebook. I just can’t pay that for a book I cannot sell or pass on or trade with someone. So it’s just stuck in my mind that BSB ebooks are not going to happen for me.

    On the DRM. My eBookwise reads only non protected pdf. Pdf that I can “save as txt” since my eBookwise can’t really read pfd but can read txt.

    Most ebook publishers sell their ebooks in HTML and unrestricted pdf (can change to txt), which I can read on my eBookwise.

    I did find one BSB on Fictionwise once that was unrestricted and bought it.

    Unfortunately, many ebook vendors just say pdf and it’s unclear which pdf format they are talking about. I bought a few BSB from ARe because I asked first if the pdf on them were restricted. They said no, but then I couldn’t get them on my eBookwise because I guess what you say they are password protected, which means I can only read them on digital editions on my computer. I don’t read on my computer, period. They were kind enough to let me redownload in mobi.

    But this is an ongoing issue for me with other pubs as well that sell lesbian or gay like BSB and DP Books and so on.

    So basically, I’m extremely reluctant to buy BSB ebooks because they’re just too expensive and I’m forced to read on my husbands PDA in mobi format. And again, I cannot share with a friend or re-sell.

  16. Jill Sorenson
    May 09, 2010 @ 08:16:29

    @John: Thanks for the welcome John. Right back at you. :)

    @LVLM: @kirsten saell: To clarify, here’s what I think didn’t work for me about the sex and the relationship: Too much of the story is devoted to Chloe. Chloe and Addie have fast, rough sex. Fine. I thought their sexual connection was a little hotter than the “main” couple, actually. It might have played out better if the Chloe sex scenes had contrasted with a gentle, loving encounter w/Mel. But I thought the second couple was just as rushed.

    By no foreplay I mean that they dive right in to penetration (with tongue, fingers, etc.) rather than kissing and touching other areas of the body first.

    As far as the Cattle Valley setting, I thought it was cute! Fans of m/m especially might like this “out and open” cast of characters.

  17. Paisley Smith
    May 09, 2010 @ 09:00:27

    Ellora’s Cave now has F/F romance and F/F/M menage!!

    http://www.jasminejade.com/m-593-paisley-smith.aspx

  18. kirsten saell
    May 09, 2010 @ 09:07:21

    @Jill Sorenson:

    Yeah, that would annoy me–if the “bad” couple has better chemistry than the main romantic pairing. And if every scene was a “dive right into the panties” scene, I can see how it would be jarring. There really needs to be a bit of a mix–especially in a shorter work.

    I do find the sex I write is usually a little less “it’s business time” than the sex I tend to enjoy IRL, and I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because the characters aren’t “me”, lol, and you have to stay true to your characters.

    I’m supposed to be writing an f/f romance right now (it should have been finished long since, frankly), and I’m curious as to what you’d think of it, since you’ve read one of my f/f/ms.

    I’m also curious as to whether DA would be willing to do reviews of f/f/m?

  19. kirsten saell
    May 09, 2010 @ 09:09:51

    @Paisley Smith:

    I know! I’m pretty stoked about that, Paisley–and I’ve enjoyed the stories of yours that I’ve read. I loved Annie’s brand of quiet dominance in Beyond Curious. Very, very hot.

  20. Moriah Jovan
    May 09, 2010 @ 09:25:27

    @Toni:

    The PDF files are password protected to prevent printing which is different from DRM protection.

    Splitting hairs. DRM is a method of locking the file. A password on a PDF to prevent printing will also prevent any other conversion attempt, such as the “save as.” If you can save it as another file format, you can then print that file.

    I wouldn’t buy a $12.95 locked ebook no matter how badly I wanted it, although to be quite honest, I wouldn’t buy a $12.95 UNlocked ebook, either.

  21. Jane
    May 09, 2010 @ 10:33:13

    @Toni I, too, appreciate you coming here and explaining the BSB position. I also agree that password protected files are a form of DRM. They prevent free usage by consumers. I also think that the ebook prices are simply too high, particularly for unknown authors (at least unknown to me). When I take a change on a book then the price can’t be exorbitant. Even mainstream pub hardcovers rarely sell above the 12.99 price point.

  22. Toni
    May 09, 2010 @ 11:16:44

    I don’t believe that I am splitting hairs. To DRM protect an eBook limits the number of devices that can be used to read a particular eBook. That is not the case when a PDF is password protected. A password protected eBook can be stored on as many devices as the owner likes.

    The password security on the BSB pdf files does not prevent converting to other formats. Many of the BSB customers use an application called Calibre to convert the PDF files they purchase to many other formats without any problems. We do our best to make sure all customers can freely enjoy their purchases and encourage our customers to convert to other formats if necessary. That is why we include instructions on how to convert the titles to different formats in the FAQ and also why we provide multiple formats in the hopes that there is a workable format for everyone.

    @LVLM – I work with BSB.

  23. katiebabs
    May 09, 2010 @ 11:23:37

    @Jayne at least the epubs are starting a trend with FF such as Noble, Ravenous Romance and Ellora’s Cave. I think Samhain also. I’m all for buying ebooks, but some of the prices are more than an actual paperback, and in some cases a trade.

  24. Jill Sorenson
    May 09, 2010 @ 12:36:10

    @kirsten saell: I’m open to reviewing f/f and f/f/m. You can send inquiries to Jane.

  25. Maili
    May 09, 2010 @ 14:11:29

    @Toni:

    First, BSB eBooks are not priced the same as the print books. The eBooks are priced 25% cheaper. The majority of the print books are $16.95 and the eBooks are $12.95. You can view the pricing of the print and eBooks at the BSB webstore at http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/.

    I admit to being an impulsive buyer, sometimes with a disregard for my monthly book-buying budgetary limit, but those prices left me quite gobsmacked. I feel the current ebook price is killing the chance of attracting potential readers. I’m sorry, but I can’t even risk gambling at that price. I would give some a try if it was much more reasonable, though.

  26. LL
    May 09, 2010 @ 15:35:29

    @Toni: The majority of the print books are $16.95 and the eBooks are $12.95.

    I’ve made some impulse buys before, but I would NEVER pay $16.95 for a paperback, and especially wouldn’t pay $12.95 for an ebook–ever. DRM’d or not.

  27. Jane
    May 09, 2010 @ 15:40:55

    @katiebabs: Noble isn’t a place I would give my money to no matter how cheap the books given that Jill Noble had no problem publishing Beautiful Cocksucker I and Beautiful Cocksucker II.

  28. katiebabs
    May 09, 2010 @ 15:59:17

    @Jane and don’t forget the gingerbread man erotica.

  29. Edie
    May 09, 2010 @ 18:35:59

    While I have no real problem with $16.95 for a print book I can onsell.
    $12.95 for an ebook that I can’t.. and generally a book that I will read in a couple of hours. Nope. :(

  30. Janine
    May 10, 2010 @ 00:23:33

    @Jill Sorenson:

    Welcome! I’m really glad that you will be reviewing f/f for us. I’ve often felt I should do more of that but I find it hard to make the time. It’s great to see that need met, and to have you on board.

  31. kirsten saell
    May 10, 2010 @ 07:15:55

    @Jane: @katiebabs:

    Shrug. When you like f/f and f/f/m, you’re pretty much a beggar, not a chooser. Especially considering that half the epublishers out there who bother with it don’t bother much with editorial.

    Hopefully that will change, but for now, I can’t really write off an entire publisher–especially one with reasonable prices and decent editing–based on my personal feelings about the owner or the fact that they might have offended half of Romanceland.

  32. Mfred
    May 10, 2010 @ 07:58:00

    I, for one, am WICKED EXCITED to see f/f and/or lesbian on DA! YES! YESSSSS!

    As for the foreplay issue.. The political lesbian in me bristles at any comparison of lesbo sex as the straight person’s version of foreplay.

    (Not that anyone really said that. My inner political lesbian is really bristly and leaps to conclusions.)

    Certainly, when you are coming from a straight romance point of view, there can be a lot of expectations for what makes a romance romantic. I think straight romance books have a whole “visual” language that readers are aware of and look for to convey emotional meaning.

    I picked up some of the Lambda Lesbian Romance finalists for 2010 and was severely disappointed in the portrayal of the relationships– where were the blazing eyeballs & the ticking jaw muscles, etc.? Where were all of the little hints and clues that told me what the characters were feeling for each other, even when they themselves were unable to articulate them? I felt adrift without them, and each romantic pairing (in three separate books, mind you) was off for me.

    But then I picked up Radclyffe’s The Lonely Hearts Club, and found myself enjoying it immensely. And I realized the Lambda books I was reading just weren’t that good for me. Radclyffe doesn’t use any of those firey eyeballs or jumping jawbones either– but the romance, the heat, the sexxoring? Quality stuff.

    On one hand, yes, reading LGBT, I think you do have to shed some expectations. Or, maybe you have to shed tropes and stereotypes. But on the other hand? Sometimes a bad book is a bad book.

  33. LVLM
    May 10, 2010 @ 09:56:14

    @Mfred:

    I’ve read a few of Radclyffe’s stories in anthologies and really enjoyed them.

    When I first started reading f/f and lesbian, I asked my sister for some recommends since I was clueless. The first person she recommended was Radclyffe, saying that she’s one of the best writers of lesbian romance/erotic romance.

    I think like you said, there are just bad books. Because I have read a few lesbian erotic romances in which the characters do lack a certain connection.

    It’s easy if you’re not familiar with a certain genre to then think this is the typical for that genre.

    And personally, as someone who reads a lot of erotic romance, I think it’s almost a systemic problem to erotic romance no matter the content (m/f, f/f, m/m) that many authors don’t build up that tension or connection and mostly rely on graphic, intense sex to create the emotional connection. I think this is why many readers feel disappointed quite often.

    Or at least, that’s how it seems to me.

  34. Jill Sorenson
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:15:02

    @Mfred: This is such a smart, interesting comment! I think you hit the nail on the head, as far as the visual language and tension clues I’m familiar with in straight romance. I LOVE lust-dark eyes and ticking jaw muscles, LOL. Those sensory/physical reaction descriptions were lacking in this story. I felt like I was being “told” that the heroines were into each other, rather than shown. The subtle hints of attraction weren’t there for me.

    And I think I AM judging this by straight romance standards, or at least comparing it that way. I can see how my attitude is unfair to both the author and the subject matter, but I don’t know how to look at sex and relationships from a non-hetero POV. I will try to be more aware of this. Thank you so much for the thoughtful, helpful comment.

  35. Jayne
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:23:35

    Can anyone give other specific authors to try who do f/f sexxoring AND romance well?

  36. katiebabs
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:30:20

    In Julia Templeton’s new erotica historical series, The Rakes of Rochester, she has a secondary FF romance story on-going that I think would be a great full length one. This is with Kengsington Aphrodisia and from what I read, I would love to see what Julia can accomplish with a FF romance.

  37. kirsten saell
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:52:49

    @Jill Sorenson:

    I think when you’re lesbian or bi, you’re already in the mindset of being attracted to women and interested in the possibility of a relationship with one. But as a straight person reading a lesbian or f/f romance, the build-up of passionate feelings, longing, sexual tension between two women is not the daily reality for that reader, it’s not their default setting.

    The author providing for that could almost be seen as a part of the world-building, the way a fantasy needs a certain degree of set-up in order to provide a solid grounding from which the reader can suspend disbelief and experience the story as if it’s real. And if you want straight or bi-curious women as part of your readership, you have to build the sexual context in a way that’s going to be familiar to those readers.

    And there’s also the matter of whether lesbian romance and f/f(/m) romance have much of an overlap in readership to begin with. I think there will always be some authors who can satisfy everyone, if you will, but they may always be few and far between…

  38. LVLM
    May 10, 2010 @ 12:23:28

    @Jayne:

    Wow, that’s a tall order!

    I’ve read lots of f/f that I’ve really enjoyed, but I’ve found that many readers of my reviews disagree with my take on them or feel differently. So it’s hard to make a recommend.

    For instance, while I though this particular book had issues and I totally disliked the interactions between Chloe and Addie, I did feel that there was a build up of energy between Mel and Addie and a kind of flirting before they got together. So I read it quite differently. And that’s how it is with readers, we all have our different perspectives and takes on things and no one person is wrong or right.

    And I think what both Mfred and Kirsten are saying holds true. If you’re going to read a f/f without having the context of actually living it or wanting to live it, then your perspective on what’s good f/f might be different than those who are living it.

    And then there’s the whole issue of f/f with a bi or curious slant vs lesbian which has a different feel to it altogether. I’m not so sure that a straight identified reader would easily feel comfortable with straight up lesbian romance.

    La Bonne by Michele DeLully is a good f/f/m. Nicely written and the characters all feel strongly about each other.

    I liked Beth Williamson’s Widow’s Weeds. This is a rather sweet lesbian with a straight woman love story.

    The Garden House by Mia Cherish and Jaqueline Quaid is a sweet and juicy paranormal f/f love story with bi characters.

    Most Bold Strokes books are very well written. I loved Jove Belle’s Edge of Darkness, which is a thriller/mystery with a lesbian love story in the mix.

    If you want really hot, juicy lesbian erotic romance, then Meghan O’Brien’s 13 Hours was really hot and had tons of emotional build up. This one would be easier for a straight identified person because one of the main characters hasn’t really owned up to her liking women before she meets the lesbian character. However, the sex did become a bit much later on.

    I’m rather partial to Paisley Smith’s books, Birthday Girl and Beyond Curious, however, I know readers of my reviews didn’t like them too much.

    Of course, I would recommend Kirsten Saell’s books because she has men in the mix and the passion between the female characters is intense.

    It’s hard.. I wish there were more to recommend.

  39. Jill Sorenson
    May 10, 2010 @ 14:20:02

    @Jayne: As I mentioned in the review, I haven’t read any other lesbian romances! But I can make these recs:

    Kirsten Saell’s Bound by Steel (f/f/m). Well written, great story, sexy and engaging menage relationship. The emotional connection between all three characters is very strong. Crossing Swords is the first in the series, so you might start with that. It’s in my TBR.

    Lacey Alexander’s What She Needs. This is an erotic exploration novel with some f/f experimentation. Steamy, edgy stuff, kind of porn-y, but with a strong m/f romance.

  40. kirsten saell
    May 10, 2010 @ 16:35:35

    Have to second Leah in her rec of Michele deLully’s La Bonne–it’s still hands down one of my favorite f/f/m romances, one that set the bar really high for me as far as finding books I can enjoy. When I write f/f/m I sometimes even ask myself, “Would Michele like this?” lol.

    I tend to prefer f/f/m to strictly f/f myself (and if you think f/f is hard to find…). Part of that is a “have your cake and eat it too” thing, but another part of it is that the dynamics of pure f/f are often hit or miss for me. Most lesbian romance either goes too far in the D/s dynamic, or not far enough. Hard to find the happy medium there–to temper the estrogen without overcompensating by eliminating the femininity of one of the characters. And part of that comes from my own default settings in how I prefer to relate to men and to women.

    Really hard to please everyone, heh. Even someone who considers herself a fan, well, there’s more out there that doesn’t work for me than does…

  41. kirsten saell
    May 10, 2010 @ 16:37:22

    And thanks for the rec, Jill! I’m still pretty stoked that you liked BBS so much. :)

  42. Moriah Jovan
    May 10, 2010 @ 19:15:47

    Y’all can add me to Kirsten’s fan club with Healer’s Touch.

  43. Mina Kelly
    May 11, 2010 @ 04:28:09

    Has anyone else been as confused as I was between this and Chasing Perfect? Having read in that review it was set in the Fool’s Gold series, I thought this one must be part of the same series and titled Cattle Valley.

    I did find it strange that in the Chasing perfect the women were complaining that there weren’t enough men in the town…

  44. Jane
    May 11, 2010 @ 06:42:38

    @Mina Kelly: :raises hand: When I first opened the file, I thought “Susan Mallery’s book was a lesbian romance? That explains everything!”

  45. Paisley Smith
    May 12, 2010 @ 05:42:26

    @kirsten saell:

    Thank you! (I love those Shane-like girls)

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